MALTESE HUMOUR - But Seriously

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

Humour in the midst of natives on a small Mediterranean Island.

Here is a presentation of the Maltese penchant for humour when facing the sun's rays.

But are they really a happy bunch or a nation of grumblers?

here are some observations made by the author

check this out ... MALTESE HUMOUR BUT SERIOUSLY - a full blown publication which may be purchased in Malta ... but soon will be on ebooks...

Submitted: August 10, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 10, 2015





Do Maltese people laugh ?


Do Maltese people appreciate any degree of humour in their daily life? What sort of humour, if any, do the Maltese go for? Which buttons should one be pressing to make Maltese people laugh?

Some of the Maltese themselves will admit that they that belong to the legendary nation of gemgem, that is, a pack of grumblers. They – we, i.e., are known to grumble and complain about almost anything. We grumble about the good weather, even if on a nice sunny day in January, just because the sun is too bright and there is a chance that the ultra-violet rays of the sun might wrinkle our skin; we complain if it is a rainy day, because the lady of the house cannot hang her washing on the rooftop. Commuters complain about the bus arriving late (well now, there they may have a point), and we complain about the Roman Catholic teachings, if the homily during mass is too long.

But really, when was it, the last time that you and I heard someone chuckle, giggle or share a joke or any other sort of pleasantry? On the bus? At a restaurant or in a bar? Do Maltese people laugh at home when in the company of their family? Do Maltese people laugh at work in the company of their colleagues? Maybe a spot of sniggering when in a sober social gathering?


Let’s define Maltese Humour 

It is not seldom that we accuse our own insular members that they take life too seriously. We would find various reasons to complain and that our day is full of woes. There may, after all, not be too many occasions in our lives when we are relieved by an occasional laugh. Or is the above a far-fetched sweeping statement? 

Actually, I tend to agree that most of the Maltese people do not exactly belch out laughter very often.  Most seem to enjoy a joke silently, without even bothering to crack a smile.  They don't go for gregarious laughter except if the jokes are delivered by well-established comedians. 

Many laugh loudly at slapstick, others laugh at absurd situations. Some laugh only at the expense of others when witnessing an incident or even an accident whereby the victim is actually unhappy, embarrassed or even hurt. Some of us laugh simply at funny faces, or at the mere appearance of clowns.

Like most other nations, most Maltese laugh at cheap and naughty jokes; the ones that carry a degree of sexual innuendos. Others laugh best when they are presented with a spontaneous witty reply during the course of a normal or serious conversation. 

 How about the occasion when some old man or a pious old lady breaks wind whilst attending mass in church, as they count their rosary beads? Here there is a sense of double taboo that is broken (pun is intended of course). In Maltese there is a saying, that breaking the wind with sound causes laughter, breaking the wind silently causes an argument. 


Personal Humour

Humour remains to be a very personalised affair. I remember once attending a Christmas panto in one of Malta’s prominent theatres. Audience attended the play in their thousands and the theatre was always fully packed, day in day out for weeks. When I attended the performance, I recall that all the audience laughed its heart out simply at the sight of a popular comedian, whenever he appeared on stage cross-dressed in female attire. I recall that the level of the script of the play was so poor that the whole plot did not even raise itself to an understandable level, neither was it coherent. Yet the audience was simply ecstatic at the fare being dished out. After a while, I could not take it in any longer and left the hall in disgust at the poor quality of the production.

Mentioning comedies, it is interesting to note that the Maltese word kummiedja has a double meaning. This word used to refer to the circus type of fare that one enjoyed watching at any circus that crossed the Sicilian Channel. Kummiedja would also refer to a three or two act performance on stage at the parochial level. The two connotations would go together to refer to the old fare of mixed entertainment, then referred to as vaudville.

Nowadays well-scripted comedies are often imported from foreign playwrights whilst kummiedja is the result of a locally produced farce by an amateur theatrical group. The term tag?milx kummiedja means do not behave as a clown.

Nowadays, the level of appreciation of humour amongst the Maltese has risen to fresh heights that demand more refined humour in the present day life. Through exposure to the rest of the world, especially via the visual media, such as when watching films and comedy on television, televiewers have become more discerning and so more demanding. Higher levels of wit is constantly being sought. No one laughs at a joke twice, right? No more toilet and bedroom jokes please. One needs a good plot when watching a play and smart and swift one-liners if watching a stand-up comedian.

In the world of entertainment, plotting laughter in a dialogue is no laughing matter. 


Martin Morana

03.08.2015  ©


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